Ava C. Cipri has an MFA from Syracuse University, where she served on the staff of Salt Hill. She currently teaches at Duquesne University. Ava’s poetry and nonfiction can be found in such literary journals as 2River View, Drunken Boat, Georgetown Review, WHR, and Whiskey Island Review, among others.
During recess I played Operation with Kristen, Joey, and Meg. I knew the trick. Self-taught and I’d go in for the heart. Joey tried for the funny bone and the amble patient’s lit red-bulb nose rang mercy. Meg was always successful in surgery.
How clear the parameters were, the consequences. And not. Some days I carried the heart in my pocket like an accomplishment. One down. I read too much into mandatory Valentine Day’s cards, the kind of animal stickers Mrs. Swatooth put on my papers, and the seating arrangement. Vigilant about my preoccupation with self-doubt, I always took my wor(ry) home. In a small headache.
September, after the rains Heidi and I collected the drowned worms and began to cut them in half. Waiting for regeneration. Next we used live ones and waited. I remember I couldn’t stop. The next day we threw worms from our clubhouse to the scorching roof of my cousin’s house. And waited.
This is about when adults won’t talk and you are about to lose one of your own.